Curds and Whey…well maybe not whey

Seasonal fruit and store bought pound cake make for an easy dessert.

In this week’s post we’re revisiting something that I’ve talked about quite a bit through the years…curd. Fruit curd is super easy and can be dressed up or down and switched up in so many ways. Its like the utility fielder of the dessert world.

Back in September with the donut post, I included a recipe for Passion Fruit Curd at the bottom. I actually shot video for how to make the passion fruit curd at the time, but didn’t have it edited in time to be added to the donut post. I’m bringing this up again, because knowing how to make curd will be extremely useful for an upcoming recipe (most likely next week’s post, hint hint).

One of the great things about knowing how to make a good curd is that you can change 1 simple ingredient and completely change the flavor. Sub out lemon juice for, blood orange, mango, passionfruit, or key lime (or countless options) and you can easily adapt it into all sorts of new and interesting combinations and purposes. Like using it as the filling between cake layers (hint!),donut filling or an easy way to dress up a store bought pound cake or homemade eclairs as we’ve discussed in previous posts.

The other advantage of making your own curd besides being able to come up with all sorts of fanciful flavor combinations, is that you can scale it up easily and its inexpensive to make at home. I recently paid $5 for a 4 oz jar of store brand lemon curd and wound up needing a few jars worth to finish a recipe. My recipe for curd usually yields about 8 oz. So a cake that would have had negligible costs because I used things that were already in my panty wound up costing the price of curd plus the time and inconvenience of a  late night trip to 2 different grocery stores to buy more because I underestimated the amount I’d need.

Recipe

6 Egg Yolks

3/4 cup granulated sugar

½ cup Citrus Juice (lemon, lime, orange and passionfruit make good choices)

3/4 stick chilled butter cut into cubes

1 tsp finely grated zest

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine egg yolks, sugar, citrus juice, in a heat bottomed sauce pan over low heat, stir constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Run mixture through strainer to remove any large pieces. Then slowly stir in the butter until all the butter has been added and is melted. Cover curd directly with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming and let cool in the fridge before using.

And here’s the video to show you how its done…

 

Holiday Hiatus

Just letting you all know that we are going on a little Holiday season break here at itstimefordinner.com. We will be back the beginning of the year with all new content. In the meantime, check out my Holiday Treat Series. You’ll find the link to all my past Holiday Treat recipes and videos from years past, which I hope will  inspire your Holiday baking.

Happy Holidays and I’ll see you in the New Year.

Lemon & Lavender Shortbread

lemon and lavender cookies with nasturtium and lavender blossoms

I’ve been looking forward to posting this recipe for quite a while. We have quite a few lavender bushes around our yard and I’m always trying to think of ways to put all that lavender to use. Last Holiday season, I embedded some into resin to make coasters and trivets and I plan to make candles (ssh…they’ll probably wind up as Christmas presents for some folks) and maybe try soap though messing with lye kind of scares me so maybe not.

Anyway back to the lavender. A few weeks back I went through and picked blossoms off the lavender plants and I’ve been letting them air dry. I realize that not everyone grows their own lavender, several of the popular online spice retailers have dried lavender available and of course good ‘ol Amazon does.  Just with Amazon, make sure that its food grade or for culinary use.

Shortbread is pretty easy to make there’s no leavener, its just sugar, softened room temperature butter, a pinch of salt, flour and whatever flavoring you’d like to add, like vanilla extract or in this case lavender and lemon. They’re also nice because you don’t need any special cutters. You can roll the dough out to about a ½” thickness and then cut the dough into bars with a knife or pizza cutter. The dough is also very forgiving. I frequently re-roll the scraps though typically I will chill the dough back down in the fridge for a little while before I do that.

I suppose you can also make shortbread vegan by replacing the butter, though I’ve yet to find a shortening or similar that actually tastes good enough that I’d want to give up the butter. Shortbread dough is versatile. I use shortbread for my cut-out style Holiday Cookies and shortbread is a nice crust to use with custard style pies. Just dock the crust and blind bake before filling.

I’m using my regular shortbread recipe which you’ll find here. With a few important differences, first the cooking temperature and time which in this case is 275F for 60-75 minutes and I’ll be adding lemon zest and lavender blossoms as well as lemon extract. Baking the cookies low and slow will give them a really nice snap (perfect dunking texture). Here are the ingredients and instructions and there’s also a video below to walk you through the process.

Recipe

  • 3 ½ standard sticks of room temperature softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 Tablespoon lavender blossoms
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup of powdered sugar for dusting rolling pin and work surface
  • white sanding sugar, 1 TBS more of lemon zest and lavender for decorating (optional)

Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bow or the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add the your flavorings and slowly incorporate the salt and flour. Blend until dough starts to pull away from the side of the bowl and a ball starts to form. Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill for at least an hour. Roll out and cut into desired shape and dock cookies several times with a fork or toothpick. Optional step: sprinkle with the sanding sugar, zest, lavender blend and use the rolling pin to slightly press the decorations into the dough.  Bake at 275F for 60-75 minutes. Larger thicker cookies require more baking time. You want the cookies to be golden brown on the bottom and set. Let cool on a wire rack

The almost Butternut Squash Loaf

As the title above sort of teases, the recipe this week is for a Butternut Squash Loaf. Or rather it was going to be. Even as a seasoned cook I experience kitchen mishaps. And I’m choosing to write this post about the ability to fail and acceptance of failure because I think that its important for all cooks especially newer cooks to realize that sometimes stuff just doesn’t work out and that’s ok. Especially with recipes that you find online or videos which make it seem that everything comes out perfect all the time. It doesn’t, most of us either are publishing recipes that we’ve cooked dozens if not hundreds of times and have been thoroughly/sort of tested. And even when I’m not creating recipes to post here, sometimes stuff in my everyday cooking doesn’t work out. I hosted a dinner party once with the intent of making falafel only to have the little balls of wonderful chickpea goodness disintegrate in the fryer. We all just laughed about it and noshed on salads and olives and commiserated. Sure I was dying a little on the inside mostly from embarrassment but there wasn’t really anything I could do to change the outcome so I just made the best of it.

Anyway the first part of the recipe goes perfectly fine. I got a couple of smallish maybe 1lb each butternut squash from the store. Sliced them in half and seeded them. Then I made a paste with brown sugar and butter and pumpkin pie spice and roasted them in the oven and then made a puree. Check out the video below to see the walk through.

I did that part a few days ago so I could use the homemade butternut puree in my bread. I got up excited to play around in the kitchen and started to measure out all the ingredients and doing all my prep. Everything is going perfectly fine, I get everything filmed and I get the loaves in the oven. But then I smell something burning so I check on the loaves. They’ve over-flowed out of the pan and one of them has even made it over the sides of the baking sheet (note to self clean the oven).

butternut squash loaf fail

Time for the recipe post-mortem. First it looks like I over-filled the pans. No worries, I still have some batter left over so I can fill another pan and try again. Well this time it doesn’t over flow but it won’t come out of the pan and it tastes off. Like too much baking soda off. In my laziness/haste earlier in the day I couldn’t be bothered to find the Tablespoon measuring spoon so I just poured baking soda into the batter willy nilly. Well of course that’ll turn out fine. What could possibly go wrong?

Lessons we’ve learned today. Don’t over  fill your loaf pans. Use metal or glass loaf pans and don’t be lazy with measuring while baking.

such promise…

Mmmm Donuts…

freshly decorated donuts and fritters

A few weeks back, I made peach fritters and teased that I will show you how to make the donuts that are actually the beginning of the fritter process. Raised donut are pretty easy to make and the ingredients are inexpensive. The process takes a few hours, but that’s mostly idle time waiting for the dough to rise and proof a few times. Donuts are also a fun way to get the young’ns in the kitchen to help and have fun decorating their own donut creation. So without further stalling, here is my recipe for Yeast Raised Donuts.

Yeast Donuts Recipe

Ingredients

2 packets instant yeast

4 cups All Purpose Flour

1 ½ cups whole milk

⅓ cup shortening

⅓ cup warm water

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

¼ cup buttermilk powder

Instructions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, bloom the 2 packets of yeast in warm water and set aside.

yeast getting frothy.

While yeast is blooming, melt the shortening in the milk over low heat then set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix salt, flour and buttermilk powder.  The yeast should be frothy by now. slowly add the milk shortening mixture, beaten eggs to the yeast mixture.

Gradually add the flour and mixing with the paddle attachment until all the flour has been added. Switch to the dough hook and mix for about 5 minutes or until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be quite sticky but that’s ok. Turn the dough out into a greased bowl and cover with a tea towel or grease cling wrap. Let the dough rise until its doubled in size. Pound it back down and let it rise a second time.

Once the dough has risen a second time, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding bench flour if the dough starts to stick. Then roll the dough out to about ½” thick and cut to desired shape and fry at 350F until golden brown. Let drain and cool on a wire rack before decorating.

The decorating

For me, the fun part is the decorating and coming up with interesting taste combinations.

Basic Glaze

Classic donut glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

2 TBS melted butter

Pinch of salt

1 TSP Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup whole milk

In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, butter salt and vanilla extract. Gradually add the milk until you have a fairly loose mixture. This glaze is good for fritters or for basic glazed donuts.

Chocolate Glaze

S’mores donut with easy chocolate glaze

its basically the same recipe as above with the addition of 4 TBS cocoa powder.

Chocolate and Coffee Glaze

chocolate and coffee donut with dark chocolate and coffee topping

2 cups powdered sugar

2 TBS melted butter

Pinch of salt

4 TBS Cold Brew Coffee

1/4 cup milk whole milk

4 TBS Cocoa Powder

In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, butter, salt, cocoa and coffee. Gradually add the milk until you have a fairly loose mixture.

Maple Glaze

Maple glaze with crispy bacon

2 cups powdered sugar

2 TBS melted bacon grease

Pinch of salt

8 TBS premium maple syrup

1/2 cup whole milk

In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar, bacon grease, salt, and maple syrup. Gradually add the milk until you have a fairly loose mixture.

Or..

You could just keep it simple and toss the donuts in some powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar or plain ol’ white granulated sugar.

Bonus…

I made passionfruit curd and filled some of the donuts with it. Here’s how to make passionfruit (or any) curd:

6 Egg Yolks

3/4 cup granulated sugar

½ cup Passionfruit juice

3/4 stick chilled butter cut into cubes

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine egg yolks, sugar, passionfruit juice, in a heat bottomed sauce pan over low heat, stir constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Run mixture through strainer to remove any large pieces. Then slowly stir in the butter until all the butter has been added and is melted. Cover curd directly with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming and let cool in the fridge before using.

To use as donut filling, Put curd into a pastry bag fitted with the largest round tip you have. Insert the tip directly into the side of the donut and slowly but firmly squeeze the pastry bag. You should be able to feel the curd filling the donut.

 

 

 

 

Not Your Average Taco Tuesday

Duck Carnitas topped with chopped cabbage and celery slaw and a sweet citrus mango and chipotle salsa

I’m a lifelong carnivore and one of my favorite meats is duck, I just love its fatty richness. But its not something I get to enjoy too often since not too many places have duck on their menu. My wife and I were pleasantly surprised when we found a place in Newport Beach that makes “canarditas” tacos using duck confit recently. We really enjoyed them and thought it would be interesting to try to recreate these at home. Fortunately, duck legs are pretty easy to come by and not too terribly expensive at one of the Vietnamese markets near us. Otherwise this would be relegated to special occasions only eating due to the time involved and expense.

Confit is an old school method for cooking and preserving meats that predates modern refrigeration.  The old method for doing this was to put various duck parts into a ceramic crock and cover it with fat then cook it slowly in the over, when cooled the fat would form a seal around the duck. Then one could melt and filter the fat and use it over and over again. The newer way is to seal the duck and its fat with a vacuum sealer and then cook low in slow in a water bath.

Fair warning, the preparation for this takes several days. The first step is to season and salt the duck and let it air dry in the fridge. I made a paste of 2 cloves of garlic, 2 TBS of salt and and about 20 peppercorns, that crushed up in a mortar and pestle, I turned the paste out into a bowl then added another 2 TBS of coarse salt. I scored the skin side of the duck legs laid them out on a walled baking sheet and rubbed the duck legs with the salt mixture. I placed the tray of salted duck legs uncovered in the fridge and let air dry overnight.

duck legs scored then seasoned with salt pepper and garlic

The next day, I used a clean pastry brush to remove all the salt that I could. You can also rinse the duck off in cool water then thoroughly dry the duck with paper towels. The duck we had did error to the salty side so I would suggest the rinse method over the brush method. I then sealed the duck in vacuum bags along with extra duck fat, fresh oregano, garlic and lemon zest (there’s also some seasoned with lime, lemongrass garlic and ginger for another recipe.)

 

duck sealed in vacuum bags with duck fat, herbs and spices

Then I cooked the duck in a water bath at 170F for 12 hours.

duck cooking in a 170F water bath.

Once the duck was cooked, I placed the bags into an ice bath to quickly drop the temperature down and the placed in the fridge.

 

To make the “canarditas,” I removed the skin pulled and shredded the leg meat. I cooked it in a skillet on medium with a teaspoon or so of the left over fat to crisp up some of the meat.

The meat from the duck legs getting crispy in the skillet.

I made tacos with hand-made corn tortillas (see video below), cabbage and celery slaw and a citrus, mango chipotle salsa.

Citrus Mango Chipotle Salsa

The juice of the 3 oranges and 1 grapefruit

1 crushed clove of garlic

1 TBS adobo from a can of chipotles in adobe

1 TBS of duck demi glace (the gelatinized liquid left over from the sous vide process)

½ tsp ground cumin

2 TBS marmalade

1 mango peeled, seeded

I heated the orange and grapefruit juice, mango and duck demi glace  over medium low heat. I added a crushed garlic clove, one tablespoon of adobe from a can of chipotles, and 2 tablespoons of orange marmalade I heated until the marmalade was melted and the sauce reduced by half, removed from heat then let cool. Then I blended until smooth.

 

Ahi Poke (pronounced poh-keh)

Authentically traditional, Ahi Poke with ogo, alaea salt, kukui nut, onions, scallions and sesame oil.

So a few weeks back there were several reports about a midwest company that does business under the name Aloha Poke, trying to enforce their trademark of the phrase Aloha Poke. There was a bit of an inter-web brouhaha because this same midwest company, sent cease and desist notices to Native Hawaiians that use variations of the phrase aloha and poke for their food related business. You can read more about this story here. There are a couple of Change.org petition which you can check out here and here.

I did my ranting and raving about the gall of that company and their profiting off of the cultural appropriation of Hawaiian Culture a few days ago, So I won’t rehash that here. Though the issue has made me realize that many of you may not know what authentic poke (pronounced po-keh) is or how to make it. ‘Cause the stuff they sell at places like Aloha Poke is not authentic.

At its core, poke was a way to preserve the day’s catch before refrigeration was available and it put to use things that were in abundance like salt, seaweed and kukui (also called candlenuts) nut oil and meat. Ogo which is a dark reddish brown thread-like seaweed as well as alaea salt are used. Alaea salt is sea salt that’s been mixed with red volcanic clay. Chopped kukui nuts are roasted and then salted to make inamona. Alaea salt is then added to the inamona and is the seasoning for the poke. Since kukui nuts are hard to find here on the mainland, my local Tokyo Central sells both Noh Brand and Ohana Flavors brand poke seasoning*, which is basically ground up kukui nuts and Alaea salt (and sometimes furikake and red chili flakes). They also sell dried ogo. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1 lb sashimi grade fish or tofu cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 TBS Poke Seasoning* (see above)

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1/4 thinly sliced sweet onion

2 TBS sesame oil

2 TBS chopped and rehydrated ogo

Combine the fish, scallions, onions, ago and oil in a bowl and slowly add the poke seasoning. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour to let the flavors marry.

You can eat poke over cooked rice (sticky white rice ideally), with crackers or if you really want to get authentic, with poi. There are other varieties of poke out there, but this particular one predates the arrival of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans workers who brought soy sauce, salmon and rice to Hawaii.

Shoyu Poke

1 lb fish or tofu

¼ cup chopped scallions

¼ cup thinly sliced sweet onions

2 TBS sesame oil

1 TBS shoyu

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds or sprinkle of furikake rice seasoning

pinch of alaea salt

1 tsp brown sugar or honey

1 tsp garlic chili paste (optional)

In a bowl, mix the shoyu, sesame oil, salt and sugar/honey until both the salt and sugar/honey are dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Shoyu Poke with tako cucumber and avocado and wonton chips

 

Peach Fritters

Fried and glazed with buttermilk peach glaze just waiting to be eaten.

The inspiration for this week’s post was a sort of necessity is the mother of invention kind of thing. I had been toying with making donuts for several weeks originally planning on making malasadas, which are a type of donut popular throughout Hawaii. So I’ll save that idea for another time and make buttermilk peach fritters. Why peach? Well as has been the theme of late, I have a whole lot of peaches and apricots that need to be used up. I’ve had my fill of fruit salads and cobblers for a while, since that’s how we’ve been using up the fruit so far this summer.

Now my goal was to make the style of fritters you get from donut shops versus drop style. So first things first. I’ll need to make a yeast based donut dough.

Yeast Donuts Recipe

Ingredients

2 packets instant yeast

4 cups All Purpose Flour

1 ½ cups whole milk

⅓ cup shortening

⅓ cup warm water

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

¼ cup buttermilk powder

Instructions

Bloom yeast in bowl of warm water.

yeast getting frothy.

While yeast is blooming, melt the shortening in the milk over low heat then set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix salt flour and buttermilk powder.  The yeast should be frothy by now. So put the yeast water mixture in the bowl for a stand mixer and slowly add the milk shortening mixture and beaten eggs.

adding milk, egg, shortening and vanilla to mixer.

Slowly add flour.

gradually adding flour and mix with paddle attachment.

Once all the flour is added, Switch to dough hook and mix on medium until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, this should take about 5 minutes while mixing on medium.

See the video below to get an idea of the texture you’re looking for.

Place dough into a greased bowl and cover with a clean towel or cling wrap and let rise till doubled in volume.

Peach Fritters

Now for the fun part, the actual making of the fritters. I rolled the dough out to about ½” thickness and cut out 8 donuts using a 3″ round biscuit cutter (we’ll get back to those another post). I gathered the scraps and kneaded them into ball, periodically dusting with bench flour if the dough started to stick. I rolled the dough out ½ thick and then spread approximately 1 cup of chopped up peaches (reserving some of them to use for the glaze) . I then dusted the peaches with pumpkin pie spice and some of the bench flour. Then I rolled it all into a log and used a bench scrapper to slice the log into ½ thick slices and then cut again diagonally. You should have a bunch of dough and peach pieces that are about the size of the peach chunks you started with. Now form into tennis ball to baseball sized balls and flatten those into disks and dust with bench flour. Place on a floured baking sheet  and cover with a tea towel and let proof in a warm area until the dough doubles in size.

Here’s a video to walk you through the process:

Once they’ve doubled in size like this:

fritters doubled in size and ready for the fryer

Fry at 375F until golden brown

Let them drain and cool on a wire rack for about 15-30 minutes before glazing.

Buttermilk Peach Glaze

½ cup of chopped peaches that were reserved from earlier

1 cup water

2 cups of confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 TBS buttermilk powder

⅛ tsp of ground ginger

¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp salt

In a small sauce pan over low heat, heat the peaches and water until the peaches soften. Remove from heat and mash the peaches with a fork. Let mixture cool. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer, but reserve about a tablespoon of the mashed fruit. In a Medium sized bowl, mix the confectioners sugar, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, salt and buttermilk powder with a whisk. Slowly add the peach syrup and mix until the mixture is the consistency of honey. Add the vanilla.  Using a couple of forks, dip the fritters into the glaze then turn over to coat the other side. Let excess glaze drain off then move to a wire rack. Let the glaze set up before handling the fritters (about 5 minutes).  Enjoy